Top tips to have the best ethnic food.
There is nothing wrong with Yelp except that it may not be accurate, may have rated down by customers who did not get spoon on time, or cultural difference made the restaurant employees rude or hundreds of other reasons. Here are some practical steps to spot the best ethnic food, Sherlock-Holmes style.
Please stop reading this blog if you are willing to spend more than $50 a meal. It’s not for you. This is based on an economist’s theory on choosing the right ethnic food. Professor Cowen from George Mason University wrote a thesis and a book on economics of good food.
- Price: The prices of each item should preferably be single digits. Don’t order expensive dishes.
- Difficult to order names: If I can’t pronouns, I can’t eat! Wrong. If you have not heard or pronounce it may be authentic. So, go for it.
- Avoid asking for popular food. Ask for the best food in your favor. Such as what is the best veg food or best lamb food.
- Volume has a positive correlation with taste and quality. So more people throughout the day, the better is the place
- Non-localized food: The number of people of same ethnicity as the restaurant should be more than the sum of other ethnicity. If Indian food does not attract more Indians than others, quality could be one of the reasons.
- Simple Menu: If Thai cuisine menu explains what every food means in detail, and then it may not be following the earlier rule. So, simplicity of menu has a correlation to quality
- Cleanliness: Little messy makes it authentic, but if the restaurant is not clean or hygienic, it’s an indicator of how less money they make, which means how bad their quality could be.
- Non-Fancy: As an extension to earlier rule, it should not be too fancy. Selling ambiance over food is common. If your goal is tasty, authentic ethnic food then simpler is better.
- Location: The mantra for retail is location, location, location. Avoid it! Restaurants in strategic location can survive with sub-par quality. Places to avoid are downtown, public transit places, and large mall restaurants/ food-courts.
- Ethnic food–court: While you are avoiding the mall food-court, definitely don’t miss the food in ethnic mall. If there are strip malls for Korean/ Vietnamese/ Chinese community, there are at least 10’s of eating places there. As we all know that competition filters out the weeds, we have only winners in those competitive ethnic malls.
- Competition: As a corollary to previous rule and contradiction to two rules earlier, you can try in downtown if there are at least five restaurants of same ethnicity at walking distance.
- No–alcohol: The place that survives without selling alcohol perhaps has something else to sell. If it’s non-flashy or location, it is likely to be quality.
- Smaller restaurants: Try to avoid the largest or flashiest restaurant among the group, and you may be right majority of the time. If you are in China Town, Japan Town, Little Ethiopia, or Little Italy, almost always avoid the 2 storied restaurants and look for medium sized restaurants.
- Yes to appetizer and no to deserts. Appetizers are always authentic and very tasty, but deserts could be localized.
Some of the ethnic food that I have tried and liked, which may not be as popular as traditional ethnic food are: South Indian Vegetarian, South Indian Chettinad, Gujrati (Indian), Bengali (Indian), Indian Pizzas, Indian Chat (roadside food), Lucknow lamb (Indian), Ethiopian vegetarian buffet, California Sushi, California Pizza, Chicago deep dish Pizza, Sri Lankan Food, Pakistani Food, Burmese food, Indo-Malaysian, Indo-Chinese, Vegan Thai, and Goa’n food (Indian).